My New Neighbor
Some years ago I had a neighbor who owned a lot covered with grass and pecan trees between his house and mine. Since this neighbor primarily worked in another town he had little time to maintain it so I contracted the maintenance for a share of the pecan crop.
Upon learning that this neighbor had placed his home on the market I begged him to be certain that he sold to a man who loved yard work. He did just that and the following is a story about my new neighbor:
People ask me "How do you get so much work done now that you are age 81". (This article was written Oct. 7, 1992). My answer is: "I now have a darn good neighbor, a real Jim Dandy. He lacks about half an inch of being five feet tall but to me the size of his heart makes him a magnificent six foot two!"
One reason he is such a Jim Dandy is that he has about every tool that a neighbor would ever want to borrow, and he says that if he doesn’t have the tool we need he will go buy it. And, since I am a borrowing type neighbor his philosophy just suits me to a T.
Now many people will say " Yea, the only reason you think he is so great is because he has all of those tools". But that isn’t true. Hellskafuzzy, I got along for some 75 or 80 years without his tools and I could still do so, it’s just that I can’t see any reason for me to own a tool that I can borrow from a friend. I have always lived by the rule that a neighbor of mine was welcome to borrow any tool that I own, so why not vise versa.
My borrowing had reached a high point when I told him not to become like a neighbor I had some years ago who was rude enough to ask when I entered his yard, "What do you need today Bill"? And, since he is such a prince of a fellow he never misses the opportunity to jab me with that same question.
His house and garage (filling station as I call it) is some fifty yards from my house and tool shed. This being too far to walk without having to sit down and rest, I drive over to his place on my riding lawn mower. Many are the mornings when I need something I go over and find his filling station closed. However, he has seen me coming so he waits long enough to get me irritated then he comes out and says, "What do you need today, Bill"?
And I say, "listen feller, you are going to mess around and lose my business if you don’t start opening up earlier". He just sorta grins and his mustache, which is darned near as big as he is, makes him look like a " Fu Man Chu" type Chinaman, and he will say something like "Up yours too, brother".
If I say I have a plumbing problem he is ready to help me fix it. He has taught me how to eliminate the plumbing expenses on my sprinkler system. I can now go buy the parts needed and enjoy making the repairs. If I have trees to trim, dead branches that need sawing off, problems on my roof, he has the tools required and often times does all the work himself.
I had been dodging huge rocks when mowing my yard for 20 years. One day after a week or so of rain, Bobby (that’s my new neighbor’s name) said let’s dig those buggers out of there — so he brought over a large crowbar and a chain. With the crowbar we prized two of them out of the ground and pulled them to an out of the way location with our riding lawn mowers. We then loosened two gigantic rocks, tied the chain around them and pulled them out with my Jeep pick-up. When my friends ask how I got all of those huge rocks piled up together I just shrug and say "No problem, I just call on the Lord and he sends Bobby over".
We have great fun doing take offs on songs we know or know partly. For instance we may be working along on a plumbing problem or sawing off some dead limbs and I might say, " Bobby, did you know that "yesterday is dead and gone"? And he will say, "Don’t worry about it Bill, because "tomorrow never comes". This has been going on for over two years, and I guess it’s a good way for we older folk to have some fun out of our retirement years.
Bobby loves to play golf and go fishing and I will tell you right now that he is a lot better at golf than he is at fishing. He can knock a golf ball a country mile — doesn’t always know where it is going but knows it is going a long, long way.
If I ever need another club Bobby has it — he has a barrel full of clubs that he has used through the years trying to find the right ones to fit his stature.
On par 5 holes he is generally close to or on the green in 3 and quite often on the green in 2. He got me started golfing and fishing again much to my enjoyment. While he is l8 years my junior I have, on rare occasions, beaten him by rawhiding him so hard that he can’t hit the ball, or, I’ll drop a club just as he starts his swing or his putt. After he has made a bad shot I will sing, "Cheer up my b-r-o-t-h-e-r" and without hesitation he will chime in with "live in the sunshine".
At fishing Bobby is no better than I because we rarely ever catch keepers and when we do there will be only one or two — so when we are ready to home we will just throw them back in to keep from having to clean them. We have been fishing for nearly three years with the same bad luck. However, anytime I’m ready to go fishing all I have to do is call him up, say "You get a line and I’ll get a pole" and he will immediately sing out "let’s go down to that ole crawdad hole", I’m ready.
Oh, we catch many, many perch but we don’t want them — we throw them back — we keep hoping to catch some big cat fish — those we will keep. So mainly, we just sit there waiting for that big fish, but from experience we know that we are just out for an outing to get away from home, so we just sit there and think.
Maybe I will say," "You know Bobby, I am about ready to ‘let the devil take tomorrow’," and he will say "Let him have it ‘cause all you need tonight is a friend’."
Bobby, while short in stature, is all muscle — strong as the proverbial ox and would probably give a "circle saw" a darned good whipping. I don’t think he has ever seen a bugger but I have found one thing that he is afraid of: thunder and lightning.
We were out fishing one day when dark clouds gathered and the lightning and thunder started and Bobby, who had always been reluctant to leave a fishing hole, jumped up, grabbed up his gear and said "Let’s get out of here". Seeing that he was scared I just leaned back and said, "You’ve picked a fine time to leave me Lucille", and he said " I don’t give a damn if you do have five hungry children and a crop in the field, lets go home!!"
Bobby is well liked by everyone who knows him and he allows his friends to call him Shorty, but he tells them that when they do, then make it Mr. Shorty. He frowns on strangers calling him Shorty and told me a story of an event that occurred in his youth.
It seems that his High School base ball team had gone to another town to play and a bunch of the spectators were having great fun calling him Shorty. When it came his turn to bat they called to their pitcher to pitch it in low and easy so little Shorty could hit. He said the pitcher threw him a good one and he hit it for a home run. And, after circling the bases he walked over to the jeering crowd and said, "Don’t call me Shorty—my name is Bobby". "But," he said "if I had struck out I doubt that I would have said a word."
Bobby told me that he was raised up in Eden and worked as a cowboy on surrounding ranches, including the Ford ranch, during his younger years.
"Don’t tell me you were a cowboy and rode horses" I said with a grin.
"I certainly did", he said quite chagrined
"What did you ride, a Shetland pony" I snickered.
"No sir, I always rode the biggest horse on the ranch," he said proudly.
"Did someone lift you up on him or did you have to climb the corral fence to get on him," I laughed.
"No, you smart-aleck, I mounted him just like all the other cowboys."
Bobby is one of those fellows who can stay in the kitchen no matter how hot it gets.Bobby married a girl from Menard and then moved to California. After working there for thirty five years he retired and picked Brady as his retirement home. While I feel quite fortunate to having him for a neighbor he apparently doesn’t share my feelings because every time I drive over on my lawn mower he growls "What do you want today Bill?"
Now any of you fellers wanting a good fishing buddy, golf partner, or just an all around good friend — come over and let me introduce you to my friend Bobby. But don’t keep him too busy cause I still need some help every now and then.
Hey Bobby, in case you ever need to borrow your battery charger just "holler" and I will return it.